Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organisation, weighed in on news reports that indicate Pope Francis met privately last week with Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., public official who continues to violate the law by openly discriminating against same-sex couples seeking to marry in the community they call home.
“We hope that this is just a troubling mistake, but if these reports are true, this is a disappointing end to a historic trip,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “It would come as a shock to all those who were inspired by Pope Francis’s call for greater tolerance and inclusion if he were to lend support to a public employee who has become synonymous with discrimination against LGBT people. And, it would be most disappointing to the dozens of LGBT faithful who gathered to welcome Pope Francis to Washington, D.C., and whose request for a meeting was declined.”
This morning, Griffin called Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America, to express disappointment that Pope Francis declined to meet with LGBT faithful, particularly in light of the reported meeting with Davis. Although the Archbishop was not available, Griffin left a message expressing that the invitation remains open and reiterating the hope that Pope Francis will act on his message of tolerance and inclusion by ensuring that LGBT Catholics are embraced and respected by the Church.
HRC invited Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics during his recent visit to Washington, DC. The Pope, who participated in a prayer service across the street from the organisation’s headquarters last Wednesday, was asked to join more than 100 LGBT Catholics and staff who gathered to welcome him to the city. HRC also hung a banner on the side of its building asking Pope Francis to embrace LGBT Catholics and put a stop to Archdioceses and Bishops in the United States that have fired capable, faithful LGBT employees. The banner read: “We Are Your Children, Your Teachers, Your Faithful. Welcomed by God. Dismissed By Our Bishops. Pope Francis, Will You Welcome Us Home?”
One such victim of discrimination by the Catholic Church was Margie Winters, who was fired from her job as Director of Religious Education at Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion Station, Penn., just outside Philadelphia. The school took the disappointing action of terminating Margie after a parent wrote a letter to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, disclosing that Margie is married to a woman. Because of the school’s policies on same-sex marriage, Margie was told that she could either resign quietly, or be fired. She chose to be fired.Winters and her wife, Andrea Vettori, attended the welcome ceremony for Pope Francis at the White House, and joined dozens of others to greet Pope Francis as he passed the Human Rights Campaign building en route to St. Matthew’s Cathedral last week.
Margie and Andrea today issued the following statement: “We are greatly disappointed about reports that Pope Francis met with Kim Davis while he was in the United States. Many members of the Catholic LGBT community reached out to him, but our voices were not heard. If this meeting occurred, it would seem inconsistent with his many messages of pastoral openness, respect for the dignity of the human person, and gratitude. For, in the Pope’s own words, ‘anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil – a family which shows that the spirit is alive and at work.’”